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OSA Soccer Academy, LLC v. College Life Italia

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

November 15, 2019

OSA SOCCER ACADEMY, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
COLLEGE LIFE ITALIA, SOCCER MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE, STEFANO RADIO, and GIORGIO ANTONGIROLAMI, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (“Motion”). Dkt. # 13. Plaintiff OSA Soccer Academy, LLC (“OSA”) opposes the Motion. Dkt. # 16. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS the Motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         This is a dispute over an unsuccessful joint business venture. Dkt. # 1, ¶ 19. OSA, a Washington corporation with its principal place of business in Seattle, runs a soccer academy that focuses on international study-abroad education programs between the United States and Italy. Id., ¶ ¶ 3, 19. According to OSA, the parties were planning to jointly create and run a soccer study-abroad project called the Soccer Business School. Id., ¶ 19. OSA claims, however, that Defendants engaged in tortious conduct, including the misappropriation of OSA's trade secrets and other proprietary information, and launched the Soccer Management Institute (“SMI”), an Italian entity with soccer study-abroad programs that compete directly with the Soccer Business School. Id., ¶ 40.

         The complaint alleges that Giuseppe Pezzano, OSA's owner, met with Defendants Giorgio Antongirolami and Stefano Radio in 2016, to create a study-abroad program that would give U.S. college credits to students who would travel to Italy and play soccer. Id., ¶ 19. Radio is the CEO and co-founder of College Life Italia, LLC (“College Life”). Id., ¶ ¶ 21, 23. After Antongirolami introduced Pezzano and Radio, the parties are alleged to have met and discussed several projects. Id., ¶ 21-26.

         In addition to the Soccer Business School venture, Pezzano and Radio are alleged to have collaborated on fielding a National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) team based in Pierce County, Washington. Id., ¶ 27. The team, Pierce County FC, planned to support the formation of the Soccer Business School by fielding a team with Italian players that associated with College Life. Id., ¶ 29. Pezzano named Radio the Sporting Director for Pierce County FC and brought Radio to New Orleans for the NPSL owner's general meeting. Id., ¶ 28. Dkt. # 14 ¶ 23. Through this role, OSA claims that Radio had direct contact and access to a database for Soccer Business School clients. Dkt. # 1 ¶ 28.

         Pezzano and Radio also attended various events together throughout the United States. In January 2017, Pezzano and Radio attended a meeting in Los Angeles, where Radio was introduced to Pezzano's soccer contacts. Id., ¶ 24. Later that year, in May 2017, Pezzano and Radio attended a study-abroad fair in Los Angeles, where the same occurred. Id., ¶ 25. Dkt. # 14, ¶ 21. In or around November 2017, Pezzano and Radio had a telephone conversation about the Soccer Business School venture, specifically the partnership agreement and division of proceeds between OSA and College Life. Dkt. # 1, ¶ 26. A few months later, Pezzano distributed information describing the program to the NPSL and the Women's Premier Soccer League; he also registered the domain name, soccerbusinessschool.com and hired employees for the Soccer Business School. Id., ¶ 32-34. Radio states he traveled to Washington on one occasion, around June 2017, to meet with Pezzano about the Pierce County FC soccer team. Dkt. # 14, ¶ 11.

         Discussions between OSA and College Life about the Soccer Business School continued into 2018. In or around April 2018, Pezzano arranged to finalize a formal agreement about the venture between OSA and College Life. Dkt. # 1, ¶ 38. OSA claims, however, that its COO Cristiana Pedullà did not follow directions given to her to finalize the agreement. Id., ¶ 39. OSA claims, instead, that Pedullà secretly began to work for SMI during this time and provided SMI with OSA's proprietary information and trade secrets. Id., ¶ ¶ 34, 35. OSA alleges that Defendants formally broke off all contact with Pezzano by May 2018 and launched SMI. Id., ¶ 41.

         As part of the launch, SMI promoted a virtually-identical website that allegedly copied code from the Soccer Business School website and references the same addresses used for the Soccer Business School. Id., ¶ ¶ 44, 45. OSA also alleges that the other social media pages belonging to the Soccer Business School were changed to promote and advertise the SMI study-abroad program without Pezzano's knowledge or approval. Id., ¶ 47.

         On February 14, 2019, Plaintiffs filed suit. Dkt. # 1. On April 4, 2019, Defendants moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6), which is currently before the Court. Dkt. # 13.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Personal Jurisdiction

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) allows a defendant to move to dismiss claims against it for lack of personal jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). Plaintiff has the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction. CollegeSource, Inc. v. AcademyOne, Inc., 653 F.3d 1066, 1073 (9th Cir. 2011). “Where, as here, the defendants' motion is based on written materials rather than an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss.” Id. The plaintiff cannot “simply rest” on the bare allegations of his or her complaint, and all “uncontroverted allegations” must be taken as true. Ranza v. Nike, ...


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